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ATMS / Credit in Casino
Automated teller machines (ATMs) and other cash access devices are located in casinos just as they are in many other lodging, retail or entertainment establishments. These cash access services allow customers to safely access their own cash and credit for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to, gaming.
Despite the fact that ATMs and credit card cash advance machines are available in most public places, gaming opponents erroneously claim their presence in casinos leads to excessive gambling. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to preempt the states, which have traditionally had jurisdiction over these matters, and impose a federal ban on ATMs and cash advance machines in the immediate area in a gaming establishment where gambling or wagering takes place. This means that ATMs would be banned even in the tens of thousands of retail outlets such as 7-Elevens that sell lottery tickets in 37 states and the District of Columbia. If the 'logic' behind this proposed legislation were extended, ATMs would be banned even in shopping malls or grocery stores - any place where those who want to impose their views on others think individuals might be tempted to 'overindulge.'

An overview of the facts regarding cash access in casinos demonstrates that, once again, gaming opponents are misguided.

Credit Card Cash Advance Machines
Because most people prefer not to travel with excess cash or their checkbooks, casinos offer ATMs and credit card cash advance machines as a convenience to their customers, just as they are offered at other commercial establishments. These machines, which are located throughout casino resort properties both on and off the gaming floor, also afford customers a measure of safety by eliminating the need for customers to carry additional cash for gaming and non-gaming purposes.
Casino operators are required to comply with state regulations governing the general use of ATMs and credit card cash advance machines, including specific state regulations that apply to casinos. In addition, most banks limit the amount a customer can withdraw per ATM transaction and place a daily limit on the amount that can be withdrawn. Similarly, most credit card issuers limit the amount of cash advances that can be charged to the credit card, and transactions can be declined if the customer's credit or cash advance limit has been reached. A number of financial networks have voluntary self-exclusion programs that allow individuals to block access to their accounts at specific ATMs. As in all circumstances involving these machines, it is the responsibility of the individual customer to monitor how much he or she withdraws.

Figures from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the State Gaming Control Board found that the average Las Vegas visitor spent less money per day in 1997 than before the machines were introduced in casinos in the late 1980s. The average visitor in Las Vegas spends more money on non-gaming activities, including shopping, sightseeing, shows, food and transportation, than he or she spends on actual gaming.

Casinos post responsible gaming information throughout the casino floor, including places where customers access their money. Nevada, Mississippi and Louisiana all require casinos to post signs on all ATMs and credit card cash advance machines identifying where patrons with gambling problems may turn for help. In addition, most casinos, in conjunction with a number of financial institutions, are voluntarily posting signs with help-line numbers at the machines. For example, Global Cash Access , one of the leading providers of cash access equipment to the gaming industry, has implemented a Responsible Gaming Partnership program in conjunction with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) . The program includes point-of-decision messages on cash access devices and a self-exclusion program for its network of ATMs and debit and credit card cash advance machines in more than 1,200 locations throughout the United States.

To help educate casino patrons about this issue, the American Gaming Association highlighted Cash Access Services in the Public Awareness section of its PROGRESS (Promoting Responsible Gaming Resources and Education Standards) Kit, a comprehensive responsible gaming program developed for casino companies. Included in the kit was a sample brochure (and template for reprinting and distribution to customers) that described each service available at casinos and what customers should know when using these services.

Casino Credit
Casino 'credit' is different from the type of credit given by commercial credit card companies, which charge fees and interest rates. In some casino jurisdictions, check cashing is the only type of 'credit' permitted. Acceptance of a personal check does not automatically transfer funds from a customer to a casino. A check is merely a written order to a bank to transfer funds from one account to another, a legally enforceable promise that sufficient funds exist in the account against which the check is drawn to cover the amount of the check. In other jurisdictions, casino credit is an expanded version of check cashing, in that 'markers' signed by customers are counter-checks to their checking accounts. Here again, the length of time between when a counter-check is signed and when a counter-check is forwarded to the customer's bank defines the 'credit' that has been extended.
Most customers do not use casino credit. Credit play is estimated to account for approximately 5 percent to 15 percent of the total amount wagered at all Nevada casinos.

The issuance of credit by a casino is subject to strict regulatory control in each of the gaming states that allows a casino to grant credit. Each state requires the casino to determine that a customer is worthy of the amount of credit granted, and credit is only granted to a customer at his or her specific request and only in the amount requested.

Information regarding problem gambling and telephone help lines is available in conjunction with the extension of credit by the casino.

Some states and most individual casinos that extend credit have implemented a program of 'self-limitation' that is available to any customer who requests it. By completing the appropriate form, the customer can have all credit privileges at the casino revoked.


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